Kagel: String Quartet No. 4; Keuris: String Quartet No. 1 (2009) by Lagos Ensemble

Categories: 1963, 1993, and 2009.

This disc collects Kagel’s final quartet and the first quartet by Tristan Keuris, a Dutch composer I have never hear of before. The works were composed 30 years apart. Kagel’s fourth and final quartet is similar to his third in that it contains more radical elements, but these elements are incorporated into more traditional and recognizable forms (even if the quartet is two movements of 8 or so passages each, which is very much not traditional). It’s perhaps the most conservative of his string quartets, but don’t let that trick you into thinking this is a particularly conservative piece of Read More

The Twilight Zone (1999) by Bernard Herrmann, performed by Royal Scottish National Orchestra conducted by Joel McNeely

Categories: 1959, 1960, 1962, 1963, and 1999.

Though not the composer of The Twilight Zone‘s most iconic theme, Herrmann composed music for both the overall show and individual episodes. This album collects the scores for seven of those episodes and includes a couple other pieces Herrmann did for the show. What Herrmann did here is remarkable. Much of this music is pretty typical of his science fiction music of the time, but it wasn’t typical for TV. (Remember, back then, American TV was indeed nothing like the movies: way lower production values, worse actors, usually, worse writing, etc.) Obviously The Twilight Zone helped change all that. But Read More

America, America (1963, Elia Kazan)

Categories: 1963 and Movies.

This film – which is about the journey of Kazan’s uncle from Anatolia to the US – is the kind of film which is quite common now but which was quite rare back then, even in the early ‘60s, pre-Renaissance. I honestly don’t know how many other (American) films like this existed at the time. And for that, it should be celebrated. Of course, the film is problematic: everyone speaks English – even when speaking to people who ostensibly speak other languages – and the American actors all attempt bad accents or don’t even try. (I am firmly on the Read More

The Great Paris Concert (1963, 1973, 2005) by Duke Ellington

Categories: 1963 and Music.

This is a solid performance of a solid selection of songs by Duke and his orchestra. But what can I say? I like my jazz radical, and as much as this is an enjoyable set, I’d frankly rather listen to 1963 Mingus or 1963 Trane. I’m not trying to put it down. The whole thing is mostly stellar. Ellington is a little idiosyncratic – do I care where the soloists are from during the actual song? – but I guess that was part of his charm. If you like big band – especially big band that honours jazz traditions – Read More

Michel Brault: Oeuvres 1958-1974

Categories: 1958, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1971, 1974, and Movies.

Though not every film is absolutely stand out, this collection is mostly filled with great stuff and very well worth watching, especially for Canadians. We can see that the Canadian film tradition was a little richer than more recent NFB material might have led us to believe. Here we have engaging, sometimes provocative, examinations of both minor and serious issues within our culture. Brault’s work should be far more well known outside of Quebec than it currently is. It should be watched in schools. Here are the films included in the collection. Titles in quotes are shorts and italicized titles Read More

The 50th Anniversary Collection by James Brown (Polydor 2003)

Categories: 1956, 1958, 1959, 1960, 1961, 1962, 1963, 1964, 1965, 1966, 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1974, 1976, 1979, 1988, 2003, and Music.

James Brown’s importance can not be understated. He is on The List of the most important musical figures of the twentieth century (along with Louis Armstrong, the Beatles, Miles Davis, Dylan, Duke Ellington, Schoenberg, Stockhausen, Frank Zappa and maybe a few others). This compilation of his hit singles gives a very good idea of his progression and how he turned gritty soul and R and B into funk and thus got sampled more than any other band leader ever. The one downside is that this compilation of his hit singles is missing one of his biggest hits. Hard to understand that Read More